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Judge John E. Jones III as Inquisitor

[From a colleague:] I understand the importance of the political struggle—not because the truth of neo-Darwinism or ID (or a “third way”) can be settled by the courts, but because Darwinian metaphysics is doing real moral and political mischief in our society, and therefore must be opposed in whatever manner is practicable. From that point of view, Dover was indeed unfortunate.

However, let us not lose sight of the fact that a scientific theory that requires a judge to enforce its teaching cannot be said to be in good INTELLECTUAL health. By proclaiming it illegal to “disparage or denigrate” neo-Darwinism, Judge Jones adopted the principle of the Inquisition, and in so doing rendered both himself and that state-enforced theory ridiculous. Taking a longer view, I think Dover will come eventually to be be seen as a moral victory, in the same way that Galileo’s condemnation is now viewed as a moral victory.

There is only one thing to say to Judge Jones—eppure, si muove!

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35 Responses to Judge John E. Jones III as Inquisitor

  1. Galileo was a great scientist but he really had it coming because he had not proved conclusively that which he claimed. He was given every opportunity by the Vatican to be more reasonable but refused. Galileo had been great friends with the Pope but his ego got in the way, a common problem with minds both great and small. He also insisted that the tides were due to the rotation of the earth. The Jesuits all knew that was nonsense. Furthermore his neglect to properly recognize Kepler was a disgrace. He was lucky they didn’t fry him. Fortunately by the time they put him under house arrest he had pretty much blown his intellectual wad. It is unfortunate that the Galileo affair has been used to denigrate the Roman Church which even in Galileo’s day was the friend of science and remains so today.

    I’m still waiting for a Protestant Academy of Science with some Nobel prize winners among its membership. Christian DeDuve comes to mind and an old colleague of mine from Washington University, Rita Levi-Montalcini, both Nobel laureates and members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. That is one organization I would be willing to join but the prospects don’t look very rosy. I am too nasty.

  2. Did you explain to your colleague that Judge Jones didn’t “make it illegal to ‘disparage or denigrate’ neo-Darwinism”? Did you warn him that this sort of hysteria is really hurting the ID movement?

    What everyone needs to keep in mind is that the Dover case wasn’t about ID. Some of the defendants couldn’t even explain what ID was! They were Biblical literalists who hijacked the real ID Movement’s good name in order to sneak their religious beliefs into the public schools, and then they lied about it when they got caught.

    They’re laughingstocks, and rightfully so. If the real ID Movement treats them like heroes and martyrs, then the real ID Movement is going to become a laughingstock, too.

  3. chaos

    If you search the ruling for the words disparage and denigrate you’ll find it plaintiffs claiming that evolution was disparaged by the school board then you’ll find Jones stating the ID denigrates evolution.

    It’s probably fair to say that Jones did indeed rule that disparaging or denigrating evolution is a violation of the establishment clause. The Cobb country Georgia decision by Federal Judge Clarence Cooper is even more blatant in saying exactly the same thing. In the Cobb ID wasn’t even mentioned and the extent of disparaging or denigrating evolution that was found unconstitutional was saying it’s a theory, not a fact.

  4. You mean to tell me that there is someone who takes chaos “theory,” and I use that word very loosely, seriously? That’s hard to believe.

  5. Regarding Darwinian evolution, the judge did not “enforce its teaching”. It is not required to teach darwinian evolution.

    In fact, if anyone wanted to enforce any teaching, it was the defendant.

  6. What teaching did the defendant wish to enforce?

  7. That Pandas and People is a reasonable scientific alternative to Darwinian evolution.

  8. In fact, this was demonstrated by the fact that when teachers refused to read the statement, someone else came into the room to read it to the students.

  9. Last time I checked it was optional for the students to choose to read the book.

  10. It was not optional to read the statement.

  11. Poison:
    Here are Judge Jones’ words:
    “…we will enter an order permanently enjoining Defendants from…requiring teachers to denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution….”

    In other words, the school board cannot denigrate or disparage evolution. But, in his ruling, the Judge ruled that ID wasn’t science–a rather disparaging statement to say the least.

    In the days of the Inquisition, people were “ejoined” from denigrating or disparaging the Pope, the Church or any Doctrine of the Church. Opponents WERE disparaged as “heretics”.

    Same thing.

  12. Doesn’t this just prevent the board from forcing teachers to criticize evolution, outside of the scope of the curriculum? IOW, if the board passed a particular science standard for “critical analysis” (which has recently become popular), is that illegal? I don’t think so. It would not be illegal to adopt state standards and use them. I think this is about the board making a sort of “special exception” outside of their powers. Especially given that evidence may arise which is critical of some aspect of evolution in the future.

    Something seems fishy…

  13. Darwinian evolution is taught as mandatory in the following way. On the MCAS, you are required to answer questions affirming Darwinian evolution or the answer is marked as wrong and your grade is lowered.

    Dan

  14. I just looked up the decision and the quote:
    To preserve the separation of church and state mandated by the
    Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,
    and Art. I, § 3 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, we will enter an order
    permanently enjoining Defendants from maintaining the ID Policy in any school
    within the Dover Area School District, from requiring teachers to denigrate or
    disparage the scientific theory of evolution, and from requiring teachers to refer to a religious, alternative theory known as ID. We will also issue a declaratory judgment that Plaintiffs’ rights under the Constitutions of the United States and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have been violated by Defendants’ actions…

    Case 4:04-cv-02688-JEJ Document 342 Filed 12/20/2005 Page 138 of 139

    Two points–one, “denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution” is not the same thing as “critically analyze and examine”. Another–it seems obvious that the ruling was restricted to the actions of the board at Dover, in the same way that a particular judgment in any tort case does not set a precedent for any defendents in a similar case. This is freezing the actions of the defendents, since they were found to have broken the law, not the state per se, nor its agencies.

  15. Red Reader,

    Read it again.

    “…enjoining Defendants from…REQUIRING teachers…”.

    The teachers were being required to do something by the defendant. This is completely in contradiction with the statement by the colleague above that the judge required evolution to be taught. He did no such thing. The school board can do whatever they want in their own free time.

    The judge didn’t require anyone to say or believe anything. Instead, the defendants required the teachers to read the statement.

  16. Dan,

    We are talking about that case at hand. Not the MCAS.

  17. “one, “denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution” is not the same thing as “critically analyze and examine”.”

    If you “critically analyze and examine” a particular part of the scientific theory of evolution (ID doesn’t find fault with it in its entirety!) and find it wanting in reality then I’m not sure how you can avoid this. I posted on the work of Jeffrey H. Schwartz. Seems like he’s certainly “denigrating or disparaging” a particular part of evolution. The same part that ID attacks as well. So is teaching Schwartz’s ideas illegal?

    Of course, my example doesn’t get into the fact that Schwartz’s Sudden Origins and ID are also in competition.

  18. 18

    John: You mean to tell me that there is someone who takes chaos “theory,” and I use that word very loosely, seriously?

    I understand that you’re a strict determinist, but we can talk about chaos even in deterministic systems. A computer’s “random number generator” is completely deterministic, but if you don’t know the seed then there’s no way you can predict the sequence of numbers that will come up. The only predictions you can make are probabalistic ones.

    Getting back to the thread topic…if you say that the Universe is deterministic and everything proceeds according to God’s Plan, then that’s fine. But if someone else says that the Universe is essentially unplanned, then that’s fine, too. In order to prove him wrong, you’d need to understand God’s Plan well enough to make predictions about future events.

    But if you make predictions based on your understanding of God’s Plan and you get them wrong, then technically you would be a False Prophet and you would get in big trouble with the Inquisition if it were still around, which it isn’t, not even in the Dover, PA courthouse.

  19. Also, they required that teachers read the statement. They didn’t require that teachers MUST agree with ID or MUST teach it (positions that the Discovery Institute doesn’t support). It’s like a psychology class where a teacher reads a syllabus that mentions Freud and other ideas in that field (isn’t there over 10 major views?). The teachers may disagree with the views of Freud but it’s a major view in that field that should at least be mentioned.

  20. Poiison

    The Dover school board is a duly elected governmental body explicitely tasked with telling school teachers in their district what they will and will not teach. Did you somehow think that schoolteachers can teach whatever they want regardless of the desires of the taxpayers that pay their salaries and the parents whose children are being taught?

    That is awfully naive.

  21. Patrick

    “Also, they required that teachers read the statement. They didn’t require that teachers MUST agree with ID or MUST teach it”

    That’s not correct.

    Teachers weren’t required to read the statement. An administrator read the statement if the teacher objected for any reason.

    Moreover, students weren’t required to hear the statement. They were allowed to leave the room if they desired before the statement was read.

  22. Folks,

    The guy stated that neo-Darwinism was a “scientific theory that requires a judge to enforce its teaching”.

    Whatever your opinion regarding teaching ID, this is factually incorrect. The judge required no such thing. The defendants were the ones with requirements.

  23. Ah, didn’t realize they gave more leeway to the teachers and students.

  24. Poisson

    You are quite wrong. By ordering the school district to not disparage or denigrate evolution it was indeed explicitely ordering the district how to teach evolution. Criticism of evolution is explicitely made illegal.

    I’m going to add a bit to a line from Richard Dawkins, hero of the neo-Darwinian apologists, to sum up the facts of the matter:

    “It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in judicial fiat censoring criticism of evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).” Richard Dawkins “Put Your Money on Evolution” The New York Times (April 9, 1989) section VII p.35

  25. DaveScot,

    This is the statement.

    “However, let us not lose sight of the fact that a scientific theory that requires a judge to enforce its teaching cannot be said to be in good INTELLECTUAL health.”

    But the judge was not mandating THAT evolution be taught. That was my point.

    Regarding the Dawkins statement: He is way too arrogant. And it is unfortunate.

    Though I am not into Intelligent Design, I can understand how people like him can enforce a distaste for certain aspects of science. He lacks humility.

    I live in Kansas, and when any one starts talking about the hicks in Kansas I become so pissed off that I find myself starting to support the Iraq war.

    Cheers.

  26. Chaos theory sucks and I am not one little bit worried about getting in trouble with any Inquisition or any God anywhere or at anytime. A belief in a personal God is nothing but fear inspired terror that there might not be an afterlife. God almighty who would want one after tolerating this one? Not this physiologist.

    “The idea of a personal God is quite alien to me and seems even naive.”
    Albert Einstein

    Me too Albert

    You better support the Iraq war because if we pull out they will strike us here. Personally I think Bush should be given the Nobel Peace Prize or better yet Pope Bendedict XVI should start him off on the road to Sainthood. He undoubted;y will be rememberd as one of our greatest presidents.

    How does that grab you liberal left wing atheist Darwinian commie pinkos wherever you may be?

    Political Liberalism and Darwinian mysticism are just two manifestations of the same genetic malaise. Amoral atheist relativists both, they were undoubtedly just “born that way.”

    There now I feel much better. Thank you for pulling my chain. Out came my little choo choo train.

  27. Poison wrote:
    “But the judge was not mandating THAT evolution be taught. That was my point.”

    Sorry Poison. Doesn’t work. When you are blue in the face, it still doesn’t work. Several here have clearly demonstrated why it doesn’t work.

    Judge Jones did in fact make ID illegal and banned the school board from so much as *criticizing* evolution. As a result, he made evolution the state-mandated science: just like Pope Pius in Copernicus day mandated that the solar system rotated around the earth. Same exact thing. Same exact reasons. Fear.

    Your insistence to the contrary is a history rewrite. *Spin*. You are *spinnig* the facts to what you apparently hope is a less damning light.

    In the process, you are doing just what Judge Jones did–selective cognizance.

    But you are fooling no one but yourself. That’s why your efforts are so pathetic. I care about you. I don’t even know you, but that’s why I tell you the truth.

  28. Poor Judge Jones is an embarrassment and deserves our sympathy. He has so overreached his authority and expertise that he has made a colossal fool of himself.

  29. Red Reader,

    Have you read the decision ?

    The judge didn’t make it illegal to criticize evolution.

    The judge made it illegal to force the classroom reading of a statement that directs students to the text Of Pandas and People.

    In DaveScot’s words, “Clearly what was on trial was the book Of Pandas and People.”

    The judge in no way mandated that evolution be taught. Nothing in the Constitution states that evolution must be taught in High School biology in Dover, PA.

    I’m sorry to say, but that was the decision and you are wrong about this.

  30. Poisson

    I’m afraid you don’t fit in very well here. It’s time for you to take your rage elsewhere.

  31. Poison wrote:
    “Have you read the decision?”

    Yes.
    http://www.pamd.uscourts.gov/k.....er_342.pdf

    More from P.
    “The judge didn’t make it illegal to criticize evolution.”

    Judge Jones wrote:
    …”we will enter an order permanently enjoining Defendants from requiring teachers to denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution….”

    “requiring” means “set policy”.
    “denigrate or disparage” means “criticize”.

    Once it becames illegal for the school board to establish a policy that includes criticism of evo, the alternative is not “voluntary” criticism of evo by free-thinking teachers: the only alternative is no criticism.

    Any criticim of evo is thereafter a violation of the policy and teachers who violate the policy will first be warned, then terminated.

    Termination, BTW, won’t be for teaching criticsism of evo, it will be for violation of school board policy against presenting “religious” ideas in violation of separation of church and state.

    More explicitly…criticism of evolution is now a relgious violation.

    Law, science and society is devolving to the middle ages.

  32. Red

    You can stop beating your head against the brick wall named Poisson. It’s plain as day that Judge Jones made it illegal for the citizens of Dover, through their duly elected representatives on the school board, to include criticism of evolution as part of the curriculum in Dover public schools. Poisson is no longer with us. He/she can take the repeated denial of the plain facts of Jone’s order and the “pissed off” attitude about the “hicks in Kansas” elsewhere.

  33. Huh? Oh. O.K..

    But I like beating my head against a wall. It feels sooooo good when I stop.

  34. I’ve also come to realize that arguing with some people on the internet is just an alternative form of masochism. :)

  35. I respond to post 18 as follows. God or Gods has or have no future plans as evolution is finished and has been for a very longe time. The plan has been realized and from here on in it is all down hill. I hope that answers your question.

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